By Adit Kumar
The turnout two Saturdays ago to the fund raising concert for the Port Mourant Humanitarian Village has confirmed that this project has warmed the hearts of the community at large. Snow-covered surfaces, sub zero temperatures and a forecast of 10-15 centimetres more snow to come did not have much effect on attendance. The enthusiastic crowd braved the weather to fill the hall at the Vedic Cultural Centre in Markham to lend tangible support for the event appropriately entitled “An Evening of Hope 2”.
Guyana Consul General Sattie Sawh, who commended the audience for their strong show of support for the project now in its second year, said “it is an event that stirs us to be committed to a worthy cause.” Citing her government’s appreciation for the project, the diplomat added, “This Humanitarian project will have tangible benefits for all, and the Government of Guyana is truly grateful for assistance in the social sector. Let us continue to support this and other charitable causes. Let us keep our country on the forward-moving path.”
MP John Mc Callum, in his brief address, said he is moved by the compassion showed by the Guyanese community in Toronto towards the less fortunate in their country of birth. He praised the Vedic Cultural Centre, which recently donated $10,000 to the Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief, for its ongoing humanitarian efforts. Jennifer Sohan, one of the singers on the program, commented, “The fact that you are here despite the weather shows that you care.”
The jubilant crowd was treated to top class entertainment with old and new filmi songs, well choreographed dances and rib tickling comedy by stand-up comedian, Mark Trinidad, who poked fun at the society. Geeta Bisram from New York and Sandhya Sugrim from New Jersey enthralled the audience with their melodious voices. Equally captivating were popular Toronto singers Karan Persaud, Nadia Maharaj, Jennifer Sohan and local Elvis, Robert Pooran, who all wowed the audience with their renditions. When emcee Pt Joe Jaglall introduced the accompanying band, The Caribbean Angels of Toronto, he pointed out that most of them were young people who wanted to make a difference to the world by lending their talent to charitable fund raising events such as this one.
The Port Mourant Humanitarian Village for which the fundraiser was held is a combination of an Empowerment and Skills Development Centre, a home for seniors citizens and a shelter for victims of domestic violence and abuse.
The Empowerment and Skills Development Centre is nearing completion and is expected to commence operation in April this year with classes in sewing and literacy. An appeal is out for donation of equipment to facilitate training in other areas such as such as welding and fabrication, joinery and woodwork, information technology, food and nutrition, catering, hollow blocks production, and basic electronics. Graduates of the centre are expected to use their newly acquired skills to earn a living thereby taking them out of the cycle of poverty and dependency.
Funds generated from the Toronto Chapter of the project will be set aside for the construction of the home for senior citizens. About $20,000 was collected last year and a challenge thrown out for 50 families to raise $1000 each. Six families committed to do so at the concert with the momentum building. Pt Suresh Sugrim, International Head of the Project, gave an update of its background and its progress. He thanked the audience, the donors, the Toronto Chapter and the Vedic Cultural Centre for their support.
Presently in Guyana Pt Sugrim is spearheading a workshop on how to curb the high rates of suicide in that country, especially in the Berbice area which already recorded nine suicides for the year and 77 attempted suicides. The workshop was done in conjunction with several key stakeholders in the country including the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, the Region 6 (East Berbice/Corentyne) Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Regional Education Department, the New Amsterdam Hospital Administration, Law Enforcement Officers, faith-based organisations, the business community, Rotary and Lions Clubs among others. Over 200 students gathered at the Corentyne Comprehensive High School, Port Mourant, Berbice last week to share their ideas on the suicide scourge affecting their community.
For more information on the Port Mourant Humanitarian Village Project and/or to donate visit www.njaryasamaj.com or contact Pt Dave Ramoutar at 416-918-4038, Pt Joe Jaglall at 416-464-3338, Jai Singh at 416-282-8306, or this writer at647-866-1926.